Tis the season! We usually say that in December, but now it is “New Year’s Resolution” season which means to get in shape, lose weight and eat healthier.
What better way than to take up triathlon for cross training. The secret to losing weight is the MIX UP! Yes, calorie deficit is key, but so is your exercise routine. Not to mention that mixing it up confuses your muscles and body which surprisingly seem to have a mind of their own!
Triathlon is a wonderful organized sport that ensures you will constantly be cross training by swimming, biking and running. Need I say more? Oh wait, adding weight training to keep your joints strong is also important, plus your body will burn more fat when resting. Triathlon will make you fit, will make you eat healthy and best part of all, will get you in the right head space due to the natural endorphins you will be creating along with new friends.
At first glance, the misconception is that to be a triathlete you have to be fast and fit! Not the case. Visit any race in the country at any time and you will see all types of body shapes. Some are beginners and some are veterans. The best part of all is that true triathletes love anyone who partakes! The fast ones cheer on the slow ones. It is an amazing sport that anyone can take part of. Searching for a triathlon club in your city or county, you are bound to find one. Joining is easy and is highly encouraged, as all triathletes love newcomers!
Once you have found a club or decided to dive into the sport, now what? Listed below are the most popular questions and answers when beginning to be a triathlete.
What equipment do I need? Each sport is listed below along with recommended products:
Women – one piece.
- Goggles such as Finis, Speedo, TYR, or Cressi. Purchase here
- Anti-Fog – your goggles will say they have an anti-fog, but this will only last 3 times you swim. FOGGIES is an anti-fog wipe that not only de-fogs, but cleans the lens as well! There is nothing worse that not being able to see when you swim. Purchase here
- Swim Cap – Latex or Silicone swim cap will help keep your hair out of your face while breathing and helps protect hair from constant exposure to Chlorine. Purchase here
- Swim Fins such as DMC Elite 1 or Elite II fins. Swim fins will help elongate your body and propel you thru the water. They also help teach proper alignment in the pool. Purchase here
- Chlorine Removing Hair & Body Care product such as TRSIWIM. TRISWIM is specifically formulated to remove Chlorine, Salt Water, Bromine and Hard Water Minerals, which will cause dry, itchy, cracking, scaly, smelly skin and hair. TRISWIM adds vitamins, botanicals, proteins and Keratin, leaving your skin and hair hydrated, healthy and Chemical-free. Purchase here
- Road bike – make sure to visit your local bike shop to be fitted for a bike. It is dangerous to ride a bike that is not properly fit to your body/legs.
- Pedals with clips.
- Road bike shoes with matching clips to your pedals purchased at a bike store. The store employees will help fit you correctly on your bike with your shoes.
- Helmet – super important to protect your noggin!
- Bike shorts with pad (chamois).
- Tight fitting bike jersey with pockets in the back to store food, wallet, phone, etc.
- Chamois chafing protector such as SKIN SLICK or TRISLIDE (same product just different size and name) continuous spray skin lubricant. Spraying this product directly on your “bits and pieces” will save you from skin from chafing and from screaming later-on in the shower. The nether region is sensitive and protecting it with a “second skin” is a lifesaver!
- Water bottle and bottle cage attached to bike to stay hydrated.
- Bento box is nice to attach to your top tube of your bike to hold essentials.
- Run shoes – go to a running store and have the trained sales staff evaluate your gait. You may need a neutral shoe or a stabilizing shoe depending upon your run style. Getting the wrong shoe can injure your Achilles Tendon, give you plantar fasciitis, and/or knee problems.
- Running clothes.
- Proper socks. Bombas and Wrightsock are reputable brands.
- Running bottle with a handle to help stay hydrated.
- Anti-Chafe, Anti-Blister product such as TRISLIDE or SKIN SLICK continuous spray skin lubricant. Spraying this directly onto prone to problem areas such as inner thigh, nipples, underarms and and spots that may blister on your feet, will save you. Purchase here
DO I NEED A WETSUIT?
Do not worry about a wetsuit just yet. This is another expensive product. Make sure that you like the 3 training the 3 sports first. If you do, THEN you can justify a wetsuit. Make sure that you purchase a TRIATHLON wetsuit (not a surf or diving wetsuit). BIG DIFFERENCE on the design and the purpose! ROKA, Blue Seventy, XTERRA, and TYR make nice triathlon wetsuits, but you will need a skin lubricant to help ease the super tight suits on and to help prevent the neck chafing that you will experience when turning your head repeatedly to breathe. A product called TRISLIDE checks all of the above, plus you can use it to prevent all skin chafing, blistering and chamois chafing found in swimming, cycling and running.
WHAT KIND OF COACHING DO I NEED?
The most important coaching is a swim coach. Everything else you can learn on your own, watching videos (YouTube) or joining a club. Swim coaching is the most important because unlike the other 2 sports, efficient swimming by utilizing the “glide” is 95% technique. A good swim coach will evaluate your current swim and correct your stroke through implementing drills.
TYPES (DISTANCES) OF RACES?
- Sprint Distance – ½ mile swim, 12.5 mile bike, 3.1 mile (5K) run.
- Olympic Distance – .93 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike, 6.2 mile (10K) run.
- Half Ironman Distance (sometimes called a “70.3” - the total distance of all 3 sports) – 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile (1/2 marathon) run.
- Ironman Distance (sometimes called a “140.6” – the total distance of all 3 sports) – 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile (marathon)
- Ultra Ironman – FAR! Double distance of an Ironman!
HOW DO I GET STARTED NOW THAT I HAVE ALL OF THE EQUIPMENT?
There are two ways to go about this. The most economical way is to research on Google. There are plenty of training plans online, but the most important factor to consider before deciding on a training plan is the distance you want to race or train for; take into consideration the time you have. If you are a busy person with work and family, you may want to train for a Sprint Distance race. Sprint distances are doable with a busy lifestyle and training can be done almost all in a gym utilizing the pool, spin classes, treadmill and weights. You will still have to cycle outside to get familiar on the bike, new concept of clipping in and out of the pedals, and gearing.
Starting in triathlon is so easy now days with the use of Google! Any help or question you have, can be found online. Whether it is a training plan, local run or bike store, swim and triathlon groups, nutrition & hydration questions, answers are right at your fingertips. In the beginning, utilize the expertise from your local bike, swim or run shop. Employees are there to help and many times, have that job because they are passionate and have knowledge of that particular sport. Joining a triathlon club is equally if not more valuable. Here you will find like-minded people, and comrades to train and race with. Some groups have built in coaches and everyone in the club is willing to lend their advice.
Whether you choose a Sprint or Ironman Distance as your first race, it will be a challenge to you. Triathlons are generally not a team sport; it is about your journey and what you would like to get out of it. Challenge yourself and enjoy the journey.